Queen Victoria’s nightie and her daughter’s bloomers and toy box have been discovered in an Isle of Wight house.
Queen Victoria’s plus-size nightie – measuring 51 inches across the girth – and Princess Beatrice’s bloomers could sell for thousands of pounds at auction after the garments were found among an enormous collection of treasures gathered over a lifetime by a retired antiques shop owner.
Marilyn Rose, 90, opened her first antiques shop in the mid-1970s in Gurnard and went on to run an outlet in Newport.
Her son, Tim Rose, 64, said:
“My mother is moving, and we have been clearing the period property. The bloomers and nightie were among several fascinating finds, some of which are new to us.
“Mum can’t remember exactly how or when she came to own the bloomers and nightdress but it’s not surprising items relating to Queen Victoria and her family emerge on the Isle of Wight because the queen spent a huge amount of time at Osborne House, her holiday home there.
“There is another royal connection as the house being cleared, which dates back to the 1700s, was once home to Sir William Carter Hoffmeister (1857-1944), Queen Victoria’s physician on the Isle of Wight.
“As well as the nightie and bloomers, a folder of letters have been found connected to the royal household. We also discovered a 19th century toy box which belonged to Princess Beatrice.”
Queen Victoria’s extra-large, pale cream lawn cotton nightdress embroidered with ‘VR’ – Victoria Regina – has an estimated value of between £1,500 and £2,000. The bloomers belonging to Princess Beatrice (1857-1944) – 5th daughter and youngest child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert – have been valued at between £500 and £1,000.
The garments are significant royal finds, according to Hansons’ period clothing consultant Notty Hornblower.
“It is always exciting to uncover items which belonged to Queen Victoria, one of Britain’s most influential monarchs. Her clothing can be sought after. In 2008 Hansons sold a Queen Victoria nightdress for £5,200, bloomers for £4,500 and a chemise for £3,800.
“Then in 2020 two pairs of Queen Victoria’s leather boots, a black taffeta skirt and two bodices achieved £14,000. They were purchased for posterity by Historic Royal Palaces, a charity which looks after London’s Kensington Palace, Victoria’s place of birth.”
Bidding is also expected to be strong for Princess Beatrice’s toy box.The stained pine chest is inscribed: ‘Toy Music HRH Princess Beatrice”. It has an estimated value of between £400 and £600.
“Princess Beatrice is fascinating, especially when you consider her lifelong devotion to Queen Victoria. She was her mother’s favourite and spent most of her life as her companion.
“Victoria came to depend on Beatrice, especially after the premature loss of Prince Albert in 1861. Beatrice was only four at the time and, being the youngest daughter, gradually became indispensable to her grief-stricken mother. As other siblings married and moved away Beatrice remained and Victoria couldn’t bear the thought of her leaving too.
“In fact, she was so set against her marrying she refused to discuss the possibility. Nevertheless, Beatrice fell in love with Prince Henry of Battenberg. After a year of persuasion, the queen finally agreed to the marriage which took place on the Isle of Wight – providing Beatrice and Henry lived with her.
“The couple had four children but in 1896 Prince Henry died of malaria while fighting in the Anglo-Asante War. Heartbreakingly, both mother and daughter lost their husbands prematurely. After her husband’s death, Beatrice succeeded him as Governor of the Isle of Wight, living first at Osborne with her mother and later at Carisbrooke Castle.
“Beatrice remained at her mother’s side until she died in 1901. The devoted daughter then spent the next 30 years editing her mother’s journals. She died at the age of 87, outliving all her siblings.
“It’s possible the items set for auction may have been gifted to servants in the Royal Household on the Isle of Wight. Mementos are then passed down through the generations and occasionally find their way to auction or to an antiques shop. They are lovely examples of royal memorabilia and deserve to excel at auction.”
The royal items will be offered in Hansons Auctioneers’ Banbury Fine Art and Antiques Auction on 1st October.
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